Significant Impact of the Ketogenic Diet on Low-Density Lipoprotein Cholesterol Levels.

Cureus. 2020;12(7):e9418
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Ketogenic diet includes food with a very low-carbohydrate and high-fat content that aims to drastically reduce carbohydrate intake and replace it with fat, hence inducing ketosis. This study is a case report which presents a case of a rapid increase, followed by a rapid correction of low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) in a patient following a ketogenic diet. The patient is a 56-year-old Hispanic female who showed a rapid increase in LDL-C and total cholesterol after only 30-40 days of following a ketogenic diet. She was directed to follow a balanced diet and take statin medication. Results showed that the patient's BMI, four weeks after the discontinuation of ketogenic diet, did not change despite a marked improvement in her LDL-C. Authors conclude that due to the unpredictable response of LDL-C levels to a ketogenic diet, close monitoring of patients with a high risk of cardiovascular disease should be considered.


undefined: It is well known, based on the previous research, that a ketogenic diet leads to an improvement in the lipid profile and decreases cardiovascular risk factors such as hypertension. However, recent studies have also reported increased levels of total cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) as a result of this diet. It has been postulated that this elevation in LDL-C would not likely increase cardiovascular complications due to the large LDL-C particle size. In this case report, we present a case of a rapid increase, followed by a rapid correction of LDL-C, in a patient following a ketogenic diet. A 56-year-old Hispanic female with a past medical history of hypertension and fibromyalgia presented to the outpatient clinic for evaluation of fatigue. She reported that she had been following a strict ketogenic diet along with daily regular exercise for approximately 30-40 days prior to this visit. Her diet consisted of low-carbohydrate vegetables, seafood, avocados, eggs, and coconut oil. The patient's physical exam was unremarkable. At the time of the visit, her BMI was calculated at 28 kg/m , with a weight loss of approximately six to seven pounds since starting the ketogenic diet. Her fasting lipid profile showed a total cholesterol of 283 mg/dl, LDL-C of 199 mg/dl, high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C) of 59 mg/dl, and triglycerides levels of 124 mg/dl. She was instructed to stop the ketogenic diet and to incorporate a balanced diet, which includes a higher amount of carbohydrates and lower fat. She was also started on high-intensity atorvastatin. However, she reported experiencing myalgias soon after initiating atorvastatin; therefore, the medication was switched to rosuvastatin 10 mg at bedtime. During her follow-up appointment, she reported not having consistently taken rosuvastatin due to the concern of worsening myalgias. Her lipid profile, after four weeks of ketogenic diet discontinuation and inconsistent use of statins, showed significant improvement resulting in a total cholesterol level of 190 mg/dl and LDL-C of 106 mg/dl. Statin therapy was discontinued, and the patient maintained optimal LDL-C levels on subsequent testing. This patient showed a rapid increase in LDL-C and total cholesterol after only 30-40 days of the ketogenic diet. Her drastic elevation in LDL-C could also be explained due to the rapid weight loss, as cholesterol in the adipose tissue is known to mobilize as the fat cells shrink. Interestingly, her BMI four weeks after the discontinuation of the ketogenic diet did not change despite a marked improvement in her LDL-C. Therefore, we believe the acute onset and resolution of hyperlipidemia was secondary to the ketogenic diet itself. This study helps to better understand expectations when recommending a ketogenic diet to patients and its consequences. There is currently no statistically significant study that proves this elevation of LDL-C would not increase cardiovascular risks. Furthermore, the necessity for statin therapy in a ketogenic diet-induced hyperlipidemia remains unknown.

Lifestyle medicine

Fundamental Clinical Imbalances : Hormonal ; Immune and inflammation
Patient Centred Factors : Triggers/Ketogenic diet
Environmental Inputs : Diet ; Nutrients
Personal Lifestyle Factors : Nutrition
Functional Laboratory Testing : Blood

Methodological quality

Jadad score : Not applicable
Allocation concealment : Not applicable
Publication Type : Case Reports